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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Interview with ... Tracey O'Hara

This is an interview I conducted with Tracey O'Hara for a "newbie author" article in the Romance Writers of New Zealand's Heart to Heart magazine (late 2009 issue).

Have you ever had a conversation with friends about what life would be like once you receive THE CALL? Have you wondered what happens next? What lies beyond that magical moment?
I thought it was time to ask some of our newly published about their experiences and see if they can shed some light on what to expect and how they’ve begun to build their careers now that they’re published.

Tracey O’Hara
(Harper Collins - EOS Books)

Please share a little bit about yourself and your writing.
I'm a full-time Urban Fantasy author writing for the HarperCollins Sci-Fi/Fantasy imprint Eos Books in the US and have another full time job as an IT consultant. Seriously - I work 36-40 a week at my day job and just as many - if not more at my "other" job as I call it now. You can't be part time, not if you want to succeed. Besides my family, and even they have to take a back seat at times, writing is the most important thing.

How authors are “discovered” is as diverse as the brands of chocolate we consume. Please tell us your CALL story.
I’ve had many contest finals and placings over the last few years with NIGHT'S COLD KISS (or NCK as it has become known amongst my writing friends), including a third in the RWAustralia Emerald Single Title and the being a finalist in the RWAmerica’s Golden Heart Award for paranormal romance.
After finalling in the Golden Heart, I sold a short erotic Spice Brief to Harlequin in a 2 story deal, so I actually have had two “calls”.  After attending the San Francisco conference for the Golden Heart, I returned home with no gold locket, but still rather pumped as I had talked an editor interested in my story.
However 2 weeks later, while attending the Australian conference in Melbourne I woke up to several excited emails from my agent, Jennifer Schober saying “ring me”. The news - the executive editor at Eos wanted to buy NCK, and not only that, she wanted a three-book deal. Lots of squealing and celebrating ensured but I had to keep it under wraps until the deal was accepted. The hardest thing ever – wanting to tell everyone and having to keep it quite.  The following day I got the nod from my agent and Anne Gracie announced it to a room full of fellow romance writers. I got to accept my first sale ribbon. Best place ever to be when you receive the call story.
One of the best things though is my good friend Erica Hayes sold a month after me and we have been able to share this journey of ups and downs together.
At the moment I have my husband and a dear friend, Cathy, as my critique givers. They actually got me through the bulk of the first book, so I have gone back to the formula that works.

I just have to ask the-chicken-or-the-egg question. What happened first  – agent or an editor? How did you go about finding one/both?
I do have an agent, the BESTEST in the world - Jennifer Schober of Spencerhill Associates. I am a slush pile success I guess you can say. I had a list of agents that I was querying - Spencerhill was number 17 on the list. I queried Spencerhill on a Tuesday and by Friday I had been accepted. Jenn and her associate Karen Solem offered representation on the strength of my first three chapters. I had had several requests for full with other agents, it was weird and quite satisfying to have to write to the others and say, “sorry I’d like to withdraw my manuscript from consideration.”

What’s the name of your book scheduled for release and can you tell us something about it?
My book is called, NIGHT'S COLD KISS (A Dark Brethren novel) and is due to be released August 25th in the US. Here is what my publisher has to say about it:-

For centuries war raged between the humans and Aeternus vampires—until courageous efforts on both sides forged a fragile peace.
But the rogue Necrodreniacs will never be controlled—addicted as they are to the death-high . . . and bloody chaos.
Since witnessing the murder of her mother, Antoinette Petrescu has burned with fiery hatred for the vampire race—even for Christian Laroque, the noble, dangerously handsome Aeternus who rescued her. Now an elite Venator, Antoinette must reluctantly accept Christian's help to achieve her vengeance—even as he plots to use the beautiful, unsuspecting warrior as bait to draw out the bloodthirsty dreniacs.

What’s the most exciting thing about writing for you? The most boring?
The most exciting is seeing a page of utter first draft crap (and I do write a real dirty first draft) start to really shine after some re-writing. Honestly – I LOVE doing edits. The most boring is reading through your ms for the hundredth time looking for grammatical and punctuation errors when you are as grammatically challenged as I am.

At the chat sessions during conferences we hear favourite authors telling us that things really change once you publish. What differences, good or OMG (oh my goodness), have you experienced since getting THE CALL?
Life gets crazy. If you were busy with writing before – times that by 10. I had an email from one of my fellow Eos authors Vicki Pettersson who basically said enjoy life as you know it now because can’t you hear the train coming through the tunnel. I thought my life was insane enough as it was since selling, but I don’t have my first book yet.
No matter how much you think you are prepared for selling, you’re not. And selling is the easy part. I used to listen to published authors say this, and think “Yeah right, but your sold, you’ve made it.” But it really is like jumping on the back of a tiger. You have to work hard to stay on his back, because one slip and you could fall off and be devoured by the beast.

One of the worst things is the lack of time you have for others, well at the moment it is for me because I still work full time. My support group the go-gos, full of wonderful and inspirational women, goes on without me because I just have nothing left. I miss them terribly and get to see them once a month at the Canberra Romance Writer’s meeting. But I miss the fabulous times we used to have.

Is there any other advice, “lightbulb” moments or comments you’d like to share about getting/being published? 

Once I sold my story is was no longer mine alone. It now belongs to me, my editor, my publishing house and my (future) readers. I’ve had to learn to be flexible within limits and to trust my editor. It’s no good saying “I can’t possible change that – it’s integral to the story,” especially when your editor is the Executive Editor of the line and has multiple New York Bestsellers like Kim Harrison and Vicki Pettersson under her belt.

Tracey, thanks for your time.

NOTE: Since this interview, Tracey has been working on DEATH'S SWEET EMBRACE, the second book in her Dark Brethren series (to be released in Jan.2011), and her alter-ego, Tracie Sommers will be releasing BLAME IT ON THE MOONLIGHT, a new Spice Briefs novella.

Tracey also blogs regularly at LoveCats DownUnder with other Aussie HM&B authors.

You can find out more about Tracey and her books at her website.


  1. Tracie,
    Your first Spice Brief is the best one ever put out, and I tell everyone it's a 'Must read'.
    So I truly can't wait to feast my eyes, and my senses, with this one as I'm sure it will be just as good, or better.

  2. Thank you Suzi - you are such a sweetheart.

  3. Looking forward to reading it Trace.

  4. Fantastic cover, this is going on on my TBR list.

  5. okay - take 3 - Yolanda - you talented good thing. Thank you for stopping by and RT tweets.

  6. Keziah - thanks sweetie - looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks.

  7. Thanks HC my dear. hope you enjoy

  8. Kylie - hope you are having a wonderful time in the US - and enjoying your GH princessdom. Finger crossed for Saturday.

  9. Fantastic ladies. Loved NCK as you know Tracey, so can't wait for Death's Sweet Embrace!

  10. Congrats Tracie! love the sound of Blame it on the Moonlight!!